News Values and Writing a News Article

The traditional newspaper article is something of a staple in national literature and news consumption. While there may be debate about whether journalism is a dying art it is still important to be able to write these articles, at least for those within the media industry.

News values is the phrase used to explain the process of writing a piece of news depending on the most interesting angle possible. Take a story such as a man and a woman’s house collapsing into the sea. This is somewhat unique as it is but this story also includes other things like the fact that the couple were elderly and therefore vulnerable, that their dog was with them, that they were stuck in the house while it hung over the Cliffside, that the woman broke her arm, and the couple had to be airlifted out by a helicopter.  Picking the correct angle to promote a story could greaten its readership.

Possible angles could be:

  • House falls over cliff edge.
  • Pensioner breaks arm in house collapse.
  • Helicopter saves pensioner in cliff-top rescue.

The latter is probably best as it has a higher news value. This is because it mentions people, shows the drama and is unique. Additionally, the person is vulnerable which increases its news value again. However, we can improve the last headline by putting the person first: Pension saved by Helicopter in cliff-top rescue.

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Headlines

A headline must:

  • Sum up the story with all the essential details mentioned.

A headline must not:

  • Contain an article at the beginning. ‘A cliff top rescue…’ would be wrong whereas ‘Cliff top rescue…’ would be correct.
  • Use quotes.
  • Name people involved unless they are well-known such as a public figure, or celebrity.

Newspaper Article Format

The format of a newspaper article begins with the headline which describes the main information upfront (unlike a fictional story). It then has an intro which repeats the headline offering only a little more information. The first paragraph then repeats the main information again but with full detail such as names of people and places and what happened. The articles started with the highest news values at the beginning and the rest are mentioned as the article continues. The parts with the lowest news values are to be explained at the bottom of the article.

Tip: Quotes within news articles are useful and give integrity to a piece.

To conclude my blogpost, I hope that this information regarding rules and tips help you to write your own news articles.

Rachel Measures

I do not own the above image, it is from: http://blog.xebialabs.com/2015/01/13/top-5-places-find-devops-news/
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